The shifting plains of belief
Globally, the world's religious composition is changing rapidly
It has been observed by many of my readers that religion is, among other things, a social construct designed by the powerful to maintain their power. This is quite accurate.1 Religion is a product designed to be a ready-made package that simplifies life’s vastly complex and often scary questions. Why are we here and what does it mean are answered in simple, concrete terms, and the answers generally leave no room for alternate facts. Most religions teach obedience to divine authority, and more importantly, they identify human vessels who speak on behalf of the deity.
In the past and in the present, religions have played a major role in societal outcomes. Many religions have come and gone. Many are completely forgotten, and their gods are fated to have no worshippers. Religion still has a major impact on the global stage, and the world’s religious landscape is shifting fast. That matters all of us who care about what the future of humanity looks like should be paying attention.
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Christians lead by raw numbers worldwide, but that won’t last. The religiously unaffiliated are growing fast, but non-believers are not currently the fastest-growing group. Currently, they are primarily concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region and North America.2 The regional numbers of non-religious individuals are suspect, however, since many countries dominated by Islam severely punish or even execute individuals who declare any beliefs that are not Islamic. One reason for the rapid growth of Islam is that it is the only major faith that spreads itself using violence and coercion.3 Renouncing the Islamic faith is simply not an option for most Muslims. When Muslims feel anonymous, they feel safe to express their real viewpoints. As an example of this, a non-anonymized survey of Iranians found that 2% are atheists, while an anonymous survey had a different result, with 12% reporting a lack of belief.4
Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world – more than twice as fast as the overall global population. Between 2015 and 2060, the world’s inhabitants are expected to increase by 32%, but the Muslim population is forecast to grow by 70%. And even though Christians will also outgrow the general population over that period, with an increase of 34% forecast mainly thanks to population growth in sub-Saharan Africa, Christianity is likely to lose its top spot in the world religion league table to Islam by the middle of this century. Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world – more than twice as fast as the overall global population. Between 2015 and 2060, the world’s inhabitants are expected to increase by 32%, but the Muslim population is forecast to grow by 70%. And even though Christians will also outgrow the general population over that period, with an increase of 34% forecast mainly thanks to population growth in sub-Saharan Africa, Christianity is likely to lose its top spot in the world religion league table to Islam by the middle of this century.5
The two primary factors in religious population growth are birth rates and the level of cultural coercion. Muslim women currently give birth to 2.9 children on average worldwide. Twenty-seven countries have Islam as their official (and the only tolerated) religion. The Middle East has been and remains unstable primarily because of Islamic fundamentalists and their repeated attempts to take control. Saying so is not “Islamophobic” - it is an acknowledgment of the nature of Abrahamic religions and their dogma.
The non-religious are sometimes referred to as the “nones” since we don’t have any dogma to peddle and are as likely to completely leave people alone as any group of people roaming the planet. Looking at the shifting statistical trends makes me think the exact opposite approach is needed. The nones cannot afford to be meek, or being a none will become dangerous in North America like it is in the Middle East.
I do not want to live among a Muslim majority. I do not want to be subject to Muslim culture. I do not want to be forced to hide what I believe (or don’t believe) for fear it will get me castigated, imprisoned, tortured, executed by authorities, or lynched by a mob of fanatics. I hold no ill will towards any individual believer in Islam, but it is the fastest-growing religion, and it is violent, and that needs to be said out loud.
Activism is necessary if we ever want to live on a peaceful planet. The devout dogmatic will never stop proselytizing and attempting to force their worldview on everyone else. Christianity is not forgotten, and I will be writing about American Christian Nationalism because it too could poison the well of humanity.